Have you ever felt as if God was distant from you? Did you have the sense God just wasn’t with you, beside you, listening to you? There are times we pray, we fast, we meditate and still we just feel utterly alone, as if no response is coming to us. Let me assure you, this happens to many of us, if not all of us, at sometime or other.
The question is why, and how do we get in touch with, or back in touch with God?
Over my time as a pastor, you can imagine I’ve had a great number of folks who will ask me to pray for them. It really is quite an honor when someone trusts you with their issue, their situation, their inmost needs and desires. Its not something I take lightly, nor do I respond lightly. I do get an inkling occassionally, some think my prayers are on a higher or more urgent plane than their own. Its as if they believe I have a more direct line to God than they themselves do. Of course we know that’s not at all true. But still, that feeling persists in a good number of people.
God is no respecter of a person’s station or ability. God’s attention is on each of us equally. God is no quicker to answer my prayers than yours.
What I’ve learned about prayer is, it needs to come from our heart, and it needs to engage us as well as God. “God, I’m going to walk out in the middle of traffic and I want you to keep me from being run over.” Good luck with that! God doesn’t acquiesce to our tests of God. God doesn’t keep our foolishness from endangering us. God isn’t a wish fulfiller. What I believe God does when we pray, is listen to our heart. I believe God looks at what we need in relation to how we ourselves are endeavoring to meet our need.
Prayer is our way to communicate with God, but it is also God’s way to communicate with us. God does speak to us, I believe this. God speaking to us comes through the honest intentions we have, the diligence we put into our conversation, and when we are open to hearing God apart from what we have already decided we need/want/desire.
In Proverbs 8:17 we read, “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.” So, our attitude toward God is paramount. Do we love God? Love God enough to trust God? When we are seeking God’s will and/or direction for our lives, are we willing to let it be what God intends over against what we ourselves are wanting? That’s a hard determination at times. We each believe what we want is what God wants. In prayer though, we have to truly be seeking what God wants.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us in 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” This is key in our time spent searching for God. Are we doing it with all our heart? Or are we just looking for God to hear our want list, wave a magic wand, and what we want appears? Friends, that’s not seeking God with all our heart. That’s seeking God’s rubber stamp to what we’ve decided. In my experience, that’s not how God works, and it is a really difficult way to go about finding God.
I have found my prayer time most fruitful when I set me aside, and seek God. When I go to God with an open mind and heart, waiting on what God will reveal to me. Jesus plainly told his followers, and me, in Luke 12:31, “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Is my time in prayer with God, a time where I bring the good for God’s kingdom into the conversation? Is what I’m asking going to further what God wants from me and for the world? “God, I’d really like it if you’d let me win the lottery. I promise, I will do the right thing with my winnings.” Hmmmm, am I already doing the right thing with what I’m currently blessed with? You see, intention and heart, God sees and knows these.
I too get trapped up in my own thinking, my own desiring. It seems when I do, its just the time I feel the most distant from God. The more I open me up, the more I allow for what God wants and desires, the closer I feel God in my life. And when what I seek is what God wants, the clearer I hear God speaking.
Loving God, you are always so near. You always are ready to hear when I call. Help me to make my conversation with you more about what you want, and less about what I want. Let my intentions be pure, and let my heart be open to you. Amen.
Your companion on the Way,